Wednesday, March 31, 2010

piece of cake

These beautiful days have me craving warm-weather food. Last Sunday, for a family dinner, I made a Pisticci-inspired coconut cake with cream cheese frosting -- from scratch. The process didn't turn out to be a piece know. The recipes were both fairly simple, but by the time we'd (yep, the whole family pitched in!) figured out how to shave the coconut, my sunny mood was overcast. But then I tasted it.

I don't want to discourage you from making coconut cake for, say, Easter -- but if you decide to, make sure to schedule plenty of time. I'd probably prep the coconut first. Cooking Light's directions do a great job of explaining how to drain and crack it (but, unfortunately, they aren't online yet, so I suggest these):
  • Draining: After heating the coconut, take it, along with a hammer and a clean nail, outside so as not to ruin your in-laws' brand-new granite counter tops. Then find the eyes of the coconut (it has three indentations in a clover-leaf shape). Balance the coconut on a hard surface, and gently hammer the nail into each of the three eyes. You'll need to wiggle the nail around a bit in each hole so there's enough air circulation for drainage. Once the holes are a quarter-inch wide, let the coconut water drip into a measuring cup. When the water stops flowing, shake the coconut and listen for more. If you hear splashing, you might need to widen the holes. When the coconut is dry, pour the water through a sieve to remove any bits of shell or coconut hair.
  • Cracking: Wrap a clean dish towel around the coconut, then bludgeon it with a hammer. You'll hear a dull crack when the shell breaks. You may need to pry it open with the hammer's claw. Rinse off the coconut when you get inside.
...But Cooking Light stops there, leaving you to your own devices for shucking, shaving, and toasting. Here's some help:
  • Shucking: With a sharp knife, score the coconut meat every couple of inches. Then, insert a fork between the shell and the light-brown papery stuff on the meat and pry off the meat piece by piece.
  • Shaving: If you want smaller shreds, use a veggie peeler to trim off the light-brown papery stuff, then use a hand-crank grater. If you'd rather have wide curls, use a veggie peeler -- no need to remove the brown stuff.
  • Toasting: Sprinkle coconut shavings onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning.

The trouble is worth it (especially if you use the tips above). Enjoy!

What are your go-to spring recipes?


Jenny Mom said...

One word -- YUM!!!

Anonymous said...

Love the pics... and the cake was tasty - thanks!